There’s no need to worry about the title of Ohad Naharin’s latest piece for Batsheva Dance Company; he’s been considering the title Last Work for eight or nine of his previous efforts, merely representing that it’s the latest, not a career-ending finale. And that’s a very good thing, because Last Work, continuing at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House through February 4, shows the kibbutz-born Israeli choreographer, who since 1990 has led Batsheva — founded in 1964 by Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, with Martha Graham as its first artistic adviser — still at the top of his game. For sixty-five minutes, seventeen members of the immensely talented Tel Aviv-based troupe speak to the audience in Naharin’s unique Gaga movement language, employing gesticulations and motion that emphasize body parts, animal instincts, pleasure, freedom, and imagination. “We are turning on the volume of listening to our body, we appreciate small gestures, we are measuring and playing with the texture of our flesh and skin, we might be silly, we can laugh at ourselves,” Naharin explains about Gaga, and Last Work features all that and more. The curtain rises to reveal a woman in a blue dress and sneakers running in place at the back of the stage, seemingly suspended in air. The dancers wear different-colored shorts and tops at the start, changing into dark outfits and, later, off-white undergarments, designed by dancer Eri Nakamura (Naharin’s wife), melding well with Avi Yona Bueno’s (Bambi) lighting.
Memorable moments abound, including all the dancers placing their hands over one standing man’s body, the company wriggling across the floor on their butts, individual solos with sharp, angular movements of knees and elbows, an emotional pas de deux by Bret Easterling and Zina (Natalya) Zinchenko (the latter in a tutu), and two women slowly reaching their hands out as they tilt back their heads in yearning, all set to Grischa Lichtenberger’s score, which ranges from electronic music to Romanian lullabies. (Three words Naharin, who has a young daughter with Nakamura, told his company to consider when formulating the piece were “baby,” “ballerina,” and “executioner.”) Although there is no specific narrative thread through most of Last Work, it concludes with a series of surprise props that make ambiguous, and funny, political references; Naharin, who was previously at BAM with 2014’s Sadeh21, 2012’s Hora, and 2007’s Three, has been outspoken in his support of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, resulting in protests against Batsheva from both sides because he refuses to denounce either. And then packing tape brings everyone and everything together, even the runner, who has not stopped for a second. Last Work is another exhilarating triumph from one of the world’s most inventive, entertaining, and influential choreographers. (For more on Naharin and Batsheva, you can check out Tomer Heymann’s new documentary, Mr. Gaga, at Film Forum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, with several screenings followed by Q&As and demonstrations.)
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, February 4, free, 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum continues its 2017 First Saturdays theme, “A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum,” on February 4 with a focus on the exhibitions “I See Myself in You: Selections from the Collection” and Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals.” There will be live performances by Courtnee Roze, OSHUN, Leikeli47, and Everyday People (DJs mOma, Rich Knight, and Lola Chung, hosted by Saada Ahmed and Chef Roblé Ali); a tour of “Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals” led by curator and artist Park McArthur; an interactive performance inspired by the graphic novel The Other Side of Wall Street by Black Gotham Experience (William Ellis, Adrian Franks, Kamau Ware, and Cliff Washington) with DJ GoodWill; excerpts from SHE’s multimedia choreoplay by Jinah Parker, followed by a discussion with the dancers and Kevin Powell; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make miniature homes inspired by “Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals”; a screening of Fit the Description, followed by a community talk with retired detective Clifton Hollingsworth Jr., founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, and U.S. Air Force veteran and composer and producer Malik Abdul-Rahmaan; pop-up gallery talks on African diaspora artists and revolutionaries, hosted by teen apprentices; a community resource fair with booths from Cultural Row Block Association on Eastern Parkway (CuRBA), Brooklyn Navy Yard, Black Youth Project 100, NYC Books Through Bars, the Safe OUTside the System Collective from the Audre Lorde Project, and others; a book club discussion about Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider facilitated by Glory Edim and Jessica Lynne; a kids corner with drumming and storytelling by Garifuna artist James Lovell; and screenings of A Nick in Time and American Falls, part of Bé Garrett’s Legacy Projects, followed by a Q&A with members of the casts; In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” “The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago,” “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas,” “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” and “Infinite Blue.”
Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and his Batsheva Dance Company return to BAM this week with Last Work, which, happily, is not the outstanding troupe’s farewell piece. Previously at BAM with 2014’s Sadeh21 and 2012’s Hora, Batsheva is presenting the New York premiere of the sixty-five-minute Last Work, which debuted in 2015 at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel-Aviv. Gaga guru Naharin’s collaborators include lighting designer Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi), soundtrack designer Maxim Warratt, stage designer Zohar Shoef, composer Grischa Lichtenberger, and costume designer Eri Nakamura; the piece, which melds the personal with the political in unpredictable and surprising ways, will be performed by William Barry, Yael Ben Ezer, Matan Cohen, Omri Drumlevich, Bret Easterling, Hsin-Yi Hsiang, Rani Lebzelter, Ori Moshe Ofri, Rachael Osborne, Nitzan Ressler, Ian Robinson, Kyle Scheurich, Or Meir Schraiber, Maayan Sheinfeld, Yoni Simon, Bobbi Jene Smith, Zina (Natalya) Zinche, and Nakamura. In addition, Tomer Heymann’s new documentary about Naharin and Batsheva, Mr. Gaga, will be shown at BAMcinématek on January 30, followed by a Q&A with Naharin and producer Barak Heymann, moderated by Wendy Perron. The film opens February 1 at Film Forum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, with several screenings followed by Q&As and Gaga demonstrations.
Gōng xǐ fā cái! New York City is ready to celebrate the Year of the Rooster, or, more specifically, the Fire Rooster, this month with special events all over town. People born in the Year of the Rooster are trustworthy, responsible at work, talkative, loyal, thoughtful, and popular. Below are some of the highlights happening here in the five boroughs during the next several weeks of Chinese New Year.
Saturday, January 28
New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand Street at Chrystie St., free, 11:00 am – 3:30 pm
Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar, with live performances, martial arts, food, arts & crafts, and more, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., $3-$5, 11:00 am and 2:00 pm
Sunday, January 29
Lunar New Year Celebration: Madison St. to Madison Ave., with the New York Eastern Chamber Orchestra conducted by Fei Fang, FJ Music, juggler Lina Liu, Chinese marionette puppet show, martial arts performance by American Tai Chi and Health Qigong Center, face painting, calligraphy, themed photo booth, and more, beginning at Harman store at 527 Madison Ave., free, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Lunar New Year Celebration, with live performance and brush and ink painting workshop sponsored by the New York Chinese Cultural Center, Staten Island Children’s Museum, 1000 Richmond Terr., $8, 2:00 – 4:00
Tuesday, January 31
Chinese New Year Celebration, with the New York Philharmonic performing works by Li Huanzhi, Adam, Saint-Saëns, Chen Qigang, Huang Zi (arranged by Bao Yuankai), Puccini, Li Qingzhu, and Ravel, David Geffen Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, $35-$110, 7:30
Friday, February 3
Pauline Benton and the Red Gate Exhibition Opening Reception, Flushing Town Hall, $5 suggested donation, 5:00
Saturday, February 4
Lunar New Year Celebration, with family-friendly arts and crafts, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., free, 1:00
Chinese New Year Celebration, with family workshops, dumpling making, storytelling, lion dance, live music, more, workshops $5-$20, party and performance $10-$20, China Institute, 40 Rector St., 1:00 – 7:00
Sunday, February 5
Eighteenth annual New York City Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, with cultural booths in the park and a parade with floats, antique cars, live performances, and much more from China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and other nations, Chinatown, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and Columbus Park, free, 1:00
Rooster Shadow Puppet Workshop, Flushing Town Hall, $8-$10 (free for teens with ID), 1:00
Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Rooster, with live performances by Sesame Street puppeteers, Chinese opera by Qian Yi, lion parade, Balinese music by Gamelan Dharma Swara, the China Youth Orchestra, traditional music by Mingmei Yip, Vietnamese drums, drawing, paper folding, button making, tea gatherings, comics workshop, hand-pulled noodle demonstration with Chef Zhang, storytelling, collection chats, and more, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St., free with suggested museum admission, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday, February 11
Lunar New Year Family Festival, with folk arts, live dance, food sampling, storytelling, a gallery hunt, a Nian monster mash-up, and more, Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St., $12, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Lunar New Year 4715: Year of the Rooster Celebration, with costume contest, riddles, martial arts, live music and dance, rice balls contest, paper lantern arts and crafts, games, more, P.S.310, 942 62nd St., free, 11:00 am - 2:30
Year of the Rooster Celebration, with lion dancers, lion parade, live music and dance, martial arts demonstrations, theatrical players, and more, New York Chinese Cultural Center at Arts Brookfield, 230 Vesey St., free, 1:30 – 3:30
Saturday, February 11, and Sunday, February 12
Lunar New Year: Year of the Rooster, with puppet shows, scavenger hunt, calligraphy workshop, fortune cookies, and more, Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Ave., $6-$8, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday, February 17
Lunar New Year Shadow Puppet Slam, hosted by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, adults only, Flushing Town Hall, $13, 7:00
This past Saturday afternoon, I trudged through the snowstorm to Gallery 151 on West Eighteenth St. for the world premiere of Yehuda Duenyas’s CVRTAIN, a Coil festival commission. A red carpet was laid out for participants, a stark contrast to the white-covered streets outside. CVRTAIN, which continues through January 15, wasn’t quite what I expected, a fun but emotionally unnerving experience, part interactive theater, part virtual reality game. Upon entering the gallery, timed ticket holders (the cost is $10) are led to one of several closed-off areas, where an operator sets you up with a VR helmet and plastic hands with buttons. A red curtain slides aside, and you are suddenly standing alone on a stage, facing a large crowd at a Carnegie Hall–like venue ready to cheer you. Meanwhile, in actual reality, a red curtain has indeed opened, and whoever is in that section of the gallery can watch you in your getup. For several minutes, the crowd responds to almost every move you make, clapping, cheering, whistling, and even booing as you carry out “les gestes de reverence,” including sweeping your hands, bowing, curtsying, lifting your arms, and blowing kisses, each motion eliciting a different reaction from the virtual audience. There are also “mystery gestures,” so you’re encouraged to try just about anything. I’m not a performer, and perhaps I’m not as narcissistic as I thought, because rather quickly, I was uncomfortable. I hadn’t done anything to deserve this outburst of love and affection; in fact, I took to one of the mystery gestures that earned me raspberries instead. What was only about five minutes felt like an eternity, so I was relieved when the operator told me my time was up. Feeling a little shaken, I then saw how my actions registered on a computer; once I realized how many recommended gestures I had forgotten about and hadn’t done, I felt even worse, as if I had failed not only myself but the game and its creator. I walked back out into the snow, disappointed by my lame effort.
I had about an hour to get to Gibney Dance near City Hall, where I was going to see Kimberly Bartosik / daela’s American Realness presentation, the twenty-four-minute, fifty-second duet Étroits sont les Vaisseaux, inspired by Anselm Keifer’s eighty-two-foot-long undulating mixed-media installation on long-term view at MassMoca. The precise length of the dance relates to the lunar day, which lasts twenty-four hours and fifty minutes as the moon affects the tide. Bartosik and her husband and designer, Roderick Murray, opened the doors to the small Studio A space, where chairs and cushions were set up against part of the walls and in a corner, all cordoned off by zigzagging white tape on the floor, indicating that the audience, consisting of about forty people, should stay within that boundary, a far cry from the red carpet that welcomed me to CVRTAIN. The shade on the far side of the room, which faces Chambers St., came down electronically, sealing us inside. For nearly twenty-five minutes, the amazing Joanna Kotze and Lance Gries moved around the room, avoiding eye contact with the audience, even when hovering directly over them, the only sound at the start the rhythmic pattern of their breathing. Things were so still that if either of them suddenly ran quickly past, you could feel the rush of the breeze they left behind. Kotze and Gries performed an emotionally intimate dance, occasionally coming together and exploring each other’s bodies, as if curious, indefinable objects. Soon the lights slowly went down as a stormlike drone could be heard in the distance. The shade then began going back up, revealing the falling snow, which melded well with the soundtrack. Kotze and Gries remained standing in the middle of the room, close together, barely moving, as Bartosik opened the door and gestured for the crowd to begin exiting. As I walked out, I looked back at the two dancers, who were still performing in what was about to become an empty room. I went outside and stopped by the partially frosted window on Chambers St., peering into Studio A, where Kotze and Gries had at last finished. I peered in and clapped for the two of them, who had received no applause from a crowd that was clearly thrilled by their duet. Kotze saw me and smiled, giving me a double thumbs-up, and then Gries smiled too. No longer was I rattled or bothered by what had happened at Gallery 151. I was back where I belonged, in the audience, not onstage, celebrating someone else’s performance. My world had returned to order.
Who: Dan Hurlin, Vicky Shick, the feath3r theory, Cynthia Hopkins, Jane Comfort and Company, Steven Reker/Open House, LMnO3
What: Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts APAP showcase
Where: New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th St., 212-727-7476
When: Monday, January 9, free with advance RSVP, 2:00 & 5:00
Why: Formerly known as American Dance Institute, the newly rechristened Lumberyard is presenting a pair of free showcases on January 9 at New York Live Arts in conjunction with the annual APAP|NYC performance festival. The two-hour showcases of fifteen-minute pieces take place at 2:00 and 5:00 with the following lineup and times: Dan Hurlin (2:00, 5:00), Vicky Shick (2:20, 5:20), the feath3r theory (2:40), Cynthia Hopkins (3:00, 6:00), Jane Comfort and Company (3:20, 5:40), Steven Reker/Open House (3:40, 6:40), and LMnO3 (6:20).